Professional Development

Taking things in a new direction: John Bermingham, Communication PhD student and former journalist on his new career in academia

November 27, 2014

Think changing careers means completely starting over again?  It doesn’t have to, and John Bermingham is proof of that. 

During his two decades as a reporter at The Province, John covered everything from the illegal activities of the notorious Bacon Brothers trio, to sneaking into (and getting kicked out of) a Mennonite Funeral; John was always searching for the 'story behind the story.'

In the fall of 2010 the opportunity arose for John to take a buyout. John made the decision to return to SFU and pursue his Ph.D. in Communication where he is examining the relationship between Public Relations and Journalism.  

“Although I enjoyed being able to share the stories of others, I decided to go back to SFU for my Ph.D. because I felt ready to tell my story to help educate students and share my industry knowledge.” 

John, who had no previous teaching experience, combined his past career experience with his passion of sharing knowledge, and worked to advance the skills he needed for teaching. He continued to develop his teaching skills and styles by enrolling himself in the Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning offered by SFU’s Teaching and Learning Commons.  After completing CPUTL, John continued to work on his professional development by enrolling in the APEX Certificate Program

“Teaching is a new world for me, but being able to combine my industry knowledge with my new academic career helped me gain confidence in my teaching.” 

In the Summer of 2014, John taught his first course, MACS 110, Mass Communication in Canada at the University of Fraser Valley and will begin teaching his second course there in January 2015. 

John’s story is evidence that all experience can be relevant to your future career path.  He teaches the same way he reported, he tells a story. 

“Teachers, find a story to tell, and that will be the heart of everything you do in the classroom and in life.  Everyone is interesting, even if they don’t realize it.”

Through his teaching, John now has the opportunity not only share other people’s stories, but start sharing his own.

-Hayley Goodgrove

If you are interested in exploring these concepts further and applying them to your situation, check out the APEX Certificate Program, a professional development program designed to help graduate students and postdoctoral fellows plan and pursue their career paths. 

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